Date night

I took a date to the horse races.

What was I thinking?

Not enough.

The woman was intelligent and attractive and skating off a divorce that had left her in a new car and smiling. Her appearance seemed unedited. She had been to one horse race, some big deal in LA, weren't they all -- something at Santa Anita where the entertainment stars were more memorable to her than what had transpired on the track.

I explained that at the simulcast building where we were going, we would be viewing some televised races from bare spots in the hinterland. Whereas there would be a few races involving horses more suitable for working in the breeding shed instead of working out behind the woodshed, our goal this evening was to have a good time and make a dollar, not sketch a champion in charcoal or discuss the advancement of the breed.

The woman wore tight jeans and suede. Suede is no longer an automatic winner. Some suede looks like backside suede. This suede seemed to have come from an animal that had lived a pampered life indoors. It was nice.

We parked in the simulcast lot next to a vehicle owned by a friend of mine who was a house painter. The truck had a few splotches of pain on it, probably not the best advertising.

My companion for an evening of handicapping was surprised to note how many people had come to the horse races in business vehicles, mostly trucks with company names on their side.

Would I use a plumber who was gambling instead of crawling under a house with the rats?

I said yes; matter of fact, I had found a rooting service in the parking lot at the horse races; better than a telephone directory, it was.

I got each of us a Racing Form, why, I'll never know. I rushed through an explanation of all the figures, raising more questions than existed beforehand.

The evening went something like this.

Q: She found it sad that so many senior males were here all alone.

A: I said that it was more likely that they were among the happiest people in the world.

Q: Did that mean that I wished I had come alone instead of bring her?

A: (Pause) No.

Q: Was there any place in the Racing Form that listed the criminal records of trainers, owners or jockeys?

A: No.

Q: Did the nachos here always come with jalapenos the size of cut okra?

A: Yes.

Q: If I was so good at this, why were we losing?

A: I replied that it must have been the pressure that came with trying to impress her.

Q: Would I give her some of her losses back because of my bad picks?

A: Probably not.

Q: Why were there so few women here?

A: The women gamblers were all out pounding the slot machines.

Q: Was that the sexist remark it seemed to be?

A: It was no opinion. It was fact.

Q: That so?

A: That's right.

Q: How many of the people in this hall tonight would you think belong in Gamblers Anonymous?

A: Not many.

Q: Why's that?

A: There are easier ways to lose. Now, will you please let me think for ten minutes?

Writer's note: I won a $300 tri and the rumor of a kiss on the cheek. Everybody probably knows what a single horse player seeks. Another single horse player.

Write to Jay at jaycronley@yahoo.com